Theresa May warns rebel MPs back my Brexit plan or face no deal

British prime minister tells the BBC that the only alternative to her potential Brexit deal with the EU is no deal.

    If Theresa May fails to negotiate an agreement on Brexit before March 29, a no-deal scenario could mean the UK would start trading with the EU under World Trade Organization rules [Peter Nicholls/Reuters]
    If Theresa May fails to negotiate an agreement on Brexit before March 29, a no-deal scenario could mean the UK would start trading with the EU under World Trade Organization rules [Peter Nicholls/Reuters]

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has warned rebels in her ruling Conservative party that unless they support her potential Brexit deal with the EU they will face a no deal.

    The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, nearly three years after 52 percent of Britons voted in favour of ending the country's 43-year membership with the EU and its predecessor the European Economic Community.

    With just six months to go, there is no full exit agreement and some Conservative MPs have threatened to vote down a deal if she manages to get one.

    "I think that the alternative to that will be having no deal," a defiant May told the BBC on Monday.

    If May fails to negotiate an agreement on the terms of Brexit before March 29, a no-deal scenario could mean the UK would start trading with the EU under World Trade Organization rules.

    This would have uncertain consequences for Britons living in EU countries and EU citizens living in the UK.

    In her interview with the BBC's Panorama, May also said there needs to be "friction-free movement of goods" with no customs or regulatory checks between the UK and EU on the island of Ireland.

    May has repeatedly insisted her Brexit plan will ensure a free-flowing Irish Border after Brexit and not a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

    A hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland would breach the Good Friday peace agreement.

    Brexit in doubt

    The fate of May's government and her Brexit plan is in doubt over whether she will be able to command the 320 votes needed in the House of Commons, the lower house of the British parliament, to approve a deal.

    Recent signals from Brussels have buoyed hopes that the UK and the EU can agree and approve a proper divorce agreement before March 29, though the sides are still divided on about one-fifth of the detail of a deal.

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    But many business chiefs and investors fear politics could scupper an agreement, thrusting the world's fifth largest economy into a "no-deal" Brexit that they say would weaken the West, spook financial markets, and block the arteries of trade.

    In an editorial for the Observer newspaper, Labour Party politician and London mayor Sadiq Khan called for a second referendum and warned Brexit would cause job losses.

    "At every stage, [ May's] government has looked unprepared and out of its depth, resulting in a litany of wrong turns," Khan wrote, before criticising his predecessor as London mayor, Boris Johnson, for prioritising his political ambitions.

    "It seems the debate has become more about Boris Johnson's political ambitions than what's good for the country."

    'Car crash Brexit'

    Johnson, May's former foreign minister, attacked her Brexit plans on Saturday and warned the UK was heading for a "car crash" Brexit.

    "If the Brexit negotiations continue on this path they will end, I am afraid, in a spectacular political car crash," Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

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    "The whole thing is a constitutional abomination, and if Chequers were adopted it would mean that for the first time since 1066 our leaders were deliberately acquiescing in foreign rule," Johnson said, referring to the 11th Century invasion which established Norman rule over England.

    Polling

    YouGov poll found 68 percent of members from the UK's three biggest unions backed a second referendum.

    A majority of respondents from Britain's three largest trade unions - Unite, Unison, and GMB members - said they wanted a second vote compared with just 32 percent.

    As the unions are affiliates of the opposition Labour Party, the results will add to calls for its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to back the People's Vote campaign.

    Corbyn has been criticised for his stance on Brexit, which many within his own party see as too closely aligned to the government's "Hard Brexit" stance.

     

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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